Blu-Ray Review: Blind Woman’s Curse

Blind Woman's Curse BR_DVD Cover (Custom)One of those wild Japanese films packed with striking imagery and offbeat performances, Teruo Ishii’s 1970 hybrid Blind Woman’s Curse makes for another excellent Blu-Ray release from Arrow Video. It wraps up action and revenge flick aesthetics with a creepy tone, loads of late 60’s era sexiness and violence with a solid performance from beautiful Meiko Kaji. She plays Akemi, the head of a yakuza clan sometime during the 1920’s who’s been released from prison only to find there’s a pretty efficient pair of assassins as well as other folks after her and what remains of her loyal gang.

The main assassin (Hoki Tokuda) happens to be the sister of a rival boss out for her own revenge. Akemi accidentally blinded her during the fierce and beautifully shot sword battle that opens up the film and she now she’s somewhat hard to stop as she whittles down Akemi’s gang. Her assistant, a muttering and really creepy killer with wild hair (Tatsumi Hijikata) is one of those characters who gets under your skin and remains there from the moment you see him. Both he and the black cat that appears during the film lend a supernatural tone to the proceedings that lend the film a nice horror vibe. That said, if you pay close attention, you’ll see that the film tends to toss a lot at you with expectations that you’ll keep up.

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Fred Dobbs, You’re Nuts In Any Decade!

(thanks, Danios12345!)
 

Ha. I just realized while watching The Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the zillionth time that the name Fred Dobbs appears in another memorable (but for the wrong reasons) film and is played by a great actor that livens up the proceedings significantly. That film would be 1980’s sci-fi horror(/unintentional comedy) hybrid (They Came)Without Warning and that actor would be the great Martin Landau. The Greydon Clark-directed cult flick is actually one of those great guilty pleasures worth tracking down because of its oddball cast (Jack Palance, Cameron Mitchell, Larry Storch, Neville Brand and a young David Caruso among others) and pre-Predator plot about an alien come to earth to do some hunting.

(thanks, metal4472!)
 

As I’m a bit off-kilter (and proud of it!) I’d do a back-to-back double feature with these two even though the tone is vastly different between the two films. Or you could go from the first film to Raiders of the Lost Ark with Without Warning and Predator for an all-day marathon of interesting genre flipping and blending. But I’ll leave personal programming choices all to you fine folks out there. Enjoy!

Blu-Ray Review: Retaliation

Retaliation BR_CoverRetaliation (Shima wa moratta), Yasuharu Hasebe’s follow up to his 1967 yakuza flick Massacre Gun is another gem from the director worth a look. Packed with great Japanese actors throwing themselves fully into their roles as gangsters and plenty of full color violence, the film’s only “weak” point is a plot where you can often see what’s coming a mile away. But Hasebe’s technique shines here as the director pulls off some great shots and keeps you hooked in right from the beginning.

Akira Kobayashi plays Jiro Sagae, a gangster fresh out of prison after an eight-year stretch for murdering a rival yakuza. He’s followed from jail by Jo Shishido’s Hino, the brother of the man he killed who’s been planning his revenge for years. As Hino attacks Jiro, Hino’s girl (who’d been following him) rushes in and interrupts the battle, forcing Hino to put off his vengeance until later. Jiro eventually goes to see his aging and indebted to another crime boss Godfather who sends him to pay his respects to his former rival. That Boss makes Jiro an offer he can’t refuse in the form of busting up another gang trying to buy up farmland in a tiny village so a factory can be built. Jiro gets a ragtag group of assistants from a failed actor, a card shark, a pair of singers and amusingly enough Hino, the man who tried to kill him at the beginning of the film.

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Blu-Ray Review: Massacre Gun

massacre gun Arrow_MVDYasuharu Hasebe’s brooding but action-packed Massacre Gun (Minagoroshi no kenjū) is a great example of the Japanese gangster film that’s well worth a look. Starring chipmunk-cheeked Jô Shishido (he has plastic surgery to look that way), the film packs in plenty of beatings and shootings into its 91 minute running time while maintaining its not so sunny outlook for just out everyone in its cast. Then again, when the “happiest” looking guy in the movie is the angry one with the titular firearm you know you’re in for a wild ride.

Shishodo stars as Kuroda, a hit man who turns on his employers after being sent on a job to kill his girlfriend. Kuroda fires himself after the work and teaming up with his brothers Saburo (Jirô Okazaki)and Eiji (“Tatsuya Fuji”, or director Hasebe’s acting persona) also wronged by the crime boss, set off to take down his empire. This trio of men setting out for vengeance on other men thing is a high risk gig and yes, the film has a very fatalistic tone running throughout that works heavily in its favor. Some Japanese gangster films tend to have running themes about codes of honor and men maimed or dying in as respectful a manner possible (well, given the violent ways in which they meet their ends). There’s a lot of that in Massacre Gun, but Hasebe’s fluid, innovative direction and use of a jazzy score make the film compelling even in its most violent moments. That and the film is amusing when it needs to be. Someone gets a nice surprise in the form of a booby trapped coffin and some of the sudden violence can be funny because it arrives when least expected and lasts longer than you’d think.

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Mad Max: Fury Road May “Retaliate” If You Don’t Go See It


 

I can only imagine some wag who plans to blow this off stepping outside one sunny day only to have a chopped and channeled dust-covered death-mobile roll up as a long handled grabber of some kind reaches for their shirt collar. Yeah, that will be a wild ride to the nearest multiplex to be sure. You can avoid this fate by just going to see the movie, you know. It opens May 15 pretty much anywhere you can see current films. Now, I know that some of you adventure seekers wouldn’t at all mind getting yanked into a crazy-looking ride for a bouncy-bouncy trip to the cinema. But the thing is, when these guys show up to get you… you end up riding OUTSIDE on that long pole. That could get problematic if you happen to reside in an area with a lot of potholes. Ouch.

New Terminator Genisys Trailer: Blasts From The Past And Future Get The Internet Somewhat Nuts


 

What’s been interesting about these Terminator Genisys trailers is how the internet whiners has reacted to the reboot without realizing that the new film is playing them like violins. The time-bending going on here and all the plot twists see as spoilers might not even be the big things the movie is bringing to the table. Me, I like the idea of taking the first two films and remixing them so Sarah Connor knows what’s coming and prepares for it before finding out things aren’t as she planned for.

I’m really curious to find out what type of Terminator John has turned out to be as well as seeing if the process can be reversed (remember, we’re dealing with time travel and its many possible ripples) by the time those end credits roll. That and hell, it’ll be fun hearing whatever goofball quips Arnold comes up with as the film progresses. It looks as if Emilia Clarke has got some of his better quotes from the first two films down pat. Eh, we’ll see (as usual). I don’t expect him to survive this flick either, but I have the feeling that even if he does… he’ll be BACK. Well, at least for one more go-around.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer: A Big SOCK! Full Of POW! For 2016


 

Wow. First we get slapped around by new Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Terminator Genisys trailers and today, it’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice getting people all hot under the collar and a few other places. Well, it certainly looks as if any blubbering about Ben Affleck as Batman has been silenced. The film seems to borrow rather heavily from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight books in terms of Batman’s more tricked out costume (the lighted eyes, sniper rifle and other bits) as well as the big battle that’s going to take place between Bats and Supes.

Of course, the film is also a jump off for the future Justice League movie, so there’s going to be plenty of new things to ogle here and over-speculate about as new trailers drop. You go do that ogling and speculating on your own time. I’ll just wait more more moving picture news and perhaps a few stills to pore over before passing any major judgments Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is in theaters March 25, 2016.

Batman v Superman banner
 

Yeah, yeah – I’ll get to that Terminator trailer tomorrow. I was up way too late working on a few projects and am wiped OUT tonight.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer 2: TBT Meet TMI, All In Two Minutes Flat


 

Well, the film certainly looks incredible (in that practical FX meets CG manner expected of it), but man did that old Ford get OLD. Well, I’m not getting any younger myself, but yikes. Scary stuff there. All kidding aside, it also looks as if the film won’t skimp on the humorous elements at all, so that’s a good thing. Nothing’s worse that a sci-fi/fantasy flick that tries too hard to take itself seriously (no names here, but some will know of which I speak). I’m betting we see more as the week spools out, what with Star Wars Celebration in full swing and all. Eh, perhaps I’ll save up one day and go to one of those, but that’s only going to REALLy happen if I’m IN a Star Wars flick at this point. Hey, I’d play Darth Faux Hipster Goatee any day of the week!

Yes, Rasputin Celebrates Hump Day HIS Way

(thanks, Sleaze-O-Rama!)
 

 
TGVB 2015 FondaI keep meaning to review Don Sharp’s 1966 flick Rasputin, The Mad Monk one of these days for the site or perhaps a blogathon or something. But I also keep forgetting to track down a personal copy so I can watch it whenever I need a good laugh. Waiting for TCM to show it again sometimes pays off in the long run because there’s a decent enough chance they’ll also show something suitably loopy.

 

This is one of those films that defies proper categorization because it’s kind of all over the map in terms of tone. It’s a biopic, a horror film of sorts, a gold mine of unintentional comic relief and of course, a showpiece for the great Christopher Lee. Yeah, I’d normally have done this up already (and most likely for The Great Villain Blogathon 2015). But it’s been busy as hell here what with the roof being repaired (again!), more work going to happen in the apartment (STRESS!) and some other stuff that’s keeping my productivity lower than usual.

That said, I’ll give ol’ Raspy a two word review for those of you curious types who need to know: SEE IT. You’ll very likely laugh yourself extremely silly and get your cringe on as well because the film can be a bit creepy on a few fronts.

Ant-Man Trailer: Little Things Mean A Lot (Of Money At The Box Office)


 

Okay, Marvel. You got me again. I wasn’t planning to see Ant-Man until if fell out of the sky and landed on cable, but giving away that train scene made me chuckle enough to be interested in seeing this on a bigger screen. Granted, if this were a more “perfect” world, we’d see a Micronauts/Microman reference in the film that possibly hinted at a sequel or follow-up. But that would be so obscure a reference for younger fans that it would fly over their heads and not even register even as old farts like me burst out laughing when it appeared on screen. Ah well. Let the summer movie season commence, I suppose. I’ll just keep my little big ideas all to myself.